Secular Philosophy Monistic View

QUESTION: Secular Philosophy – Implications of the Monistic View

ANSWER:

Based on the Secular Humanist belief in a monistic view of the mind, two further implications are exposed. The first deals with the question of humanity’s immortality. Lamont’s answer is the only one open to the naturalist: “If...the monistic theory of psychology is true, as Naturalism, Materialism, and Humanism claim, then there is no possibility that the human consciousness, with its memory and awareness of self-identity intact, can survive the shock and disintegration of death. According to this view, the body and personality live together; they grow together; and they die together.”1

Therefore, denial of life after death is inherent in the Secular Humanist worldview. Lamont goes further in stating that a belief in mortality is the first step to becoming a Humanist. “The issue of mortality versus immortality is crucial in the argument of Humanism against supernaturalism. For if men realize that their careers are limited to this world, that this earthly existence is all that they will ever have, then they are already more than half-way on the path toward becoming functioning Humanists.”2

Secular Philosophy – Mind Arose Through Evolutionary Process
The second implication of the monistic view of the mind arises from the belief that the mind arose through evolutionary processes. If this is so, the mind is still evolving, and a better mutation is likely. Some Humanists believe that this more efficient mind is arising today in the form of computer technology. Victor J. Stenger, author of Not By Design, claims, “Future computers will not only be superior to people in every task, mental or physical, but will also be immortal.” He believes it will become possible to save human “thoughts which constitute consciousness” in computer memory banks, as well as program computers in such a way as to give them the full range of human thought. He says, “If the computer is ‘just a machine,’ so is the human brain.” Stenger also foresees the possibility of computers becoming the next step in the evolutionary chain—the new higher consciousness. He concludes, “Perhaps, as part of this new consciousness, we will become God.”3

Such speculations are not mere science fiction for the Secular Humanist. In their naturalistic, monistic worldview, the human mind resulted from the evolution of matter and natural selection is still at work to improve the mind through evolution.

Notes:

Rendered with permission from the book, Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews (Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

1 Corliss Lamont, The Philosophy of Humanism (New York, NY: Frederick Ungar, 1982), 82–3.

2 Ibid., 82.

3 Victor J. Stenger, Not By Design (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1988), 188–9.

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